Powell gets the nod; GDP growth rebounding

The announcement on Monday morning that President Biden would nominate Jerome Powell for a second term as Fed Chair was largely as expected, although the unexplained delays in making it official may have persuaded some in the markets that Biden was leaning toward picking Lael Brainard instead. As far as monetary policy goes, Powell and Brainard hold very similar, largely dovish, views. Elsewhere, as a result of the flurry of economic data releases ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday we have raised our fourth-quarter GDP growth forecast to 6.5% annualised, from 4.0%.
Paul Ashworth Chief North America Economist
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US Chart Book

Omicron impact short-lived

The surge in Omicron infections means more people were self-isolating in early-January than at any time since the beginning of the pandemic, although the impact that will have on employment and output remains uncertain. Furthermore, with cases now falling just as quickly as they rose, any effects will be quickly reversed in February. In contrast to earlier waves, the rise in infections hasn’t prompted as big a pullback in services activity, with fears of catching the virus lower than during previous waves. The far bigger factor this time is staff absenteeism, which we think will cause both payroll employment and manufacturing output to decline in January, although the impact should be mostly reversed by the end of the first quarter.

24 January 2022

US Economics Weekly

Omicron reaches plateau, leaving Fed free to hike

We expect the Fed to deliver some heavy hints at next week’s FOMC that it is planning an interest rate hike in March. With the Omicron wave now past its peak nationally, there is little to hold the Fed back, particularly if next week brings news of a further acceleration in wage growth.

21 January 2022

US Economic Outlook

Inflation to remain elevated as GDP growth slows

We expect underlying inflation to remain well above the 2% target this year, which means the Fed will push ahead with four rate hikes even though real GDP growth is likely to disappoint. Core inflation will average 4.3% in 2022 and close to 3.0% in 2023. GDP growth will slow to 2.7% this year and 2.0% in 2023.

20 January 2022

More from Paul Ashworth

US Economics Weekly

Momentum could be sapped by winter wave

While the recent performance of sales and production has been encouraging, the possibility of another winter wave of coronavirus infections represents a significant downside risk to activity over the next few months.

19 November 2021

US Chart Book

Fed’s inflation dilemma isn’t going away

Whether Jerome Powell or Lael Brainard is given the nod over the coming days, the next 12-18 months are shaping up to be an unusually challenging period for the Fed Chair. The October data showed a renewed jump in CPI inflation to a 30-year high, with alternative measures showing underlying inflation clearly rising too, which undermine the Fed’s claim that the surge is largely transitory. We still suspect that a drop-back in energy prices and partial easing of supply shortages early next year will reduce some of the pressure on the Fed to tighten policy – particularly if we’re also right that the pace of recovery in the labour market underwhelms. Nevertheless, the October data further strengthen our view that higher inflation is likely to be much more persistent than the Fed currently anticipates.

18 November 2021

US Economics Weekly

Inflation rampant; Infrastructure week is finally here

Headline CPI inflation hit 6.2% last month with core CPI inflation climbing to 4.6%. Energy prices look set to drop back a little over the next couple of months, but core inflation will breach 5%, as cyclical price pressures continue to mount and the renewed surge in auction prices for used vehicles is reflected in the CPI measure. Infrastructure week has finally arrived, with President Biden due to sign the bill into law on Monday. The infrastructure bill is often touted as a $1.2bn package, but much of that is re-purposed funds. Only $550bn is “new” money and, after accounting for the revenue offsets, the CBO estimates that the bill will add only $250bn to the deficit over the next decade.  

12 November 2021
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